Twitter alternative Bluesky shows off custom Super Bowl feeds (both with and without Taylor Swift)

Twitter/X alternative Bluesky is gearing up for one of the biggest weekends in social media with the launch of custom feeds prepped for Super Bowl fans. One feed focuses on conversations around the big game itself while the other also includes news about Taylor Swift, who’s expected to attend to cheer on her boyfriend, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce.

The attention paid to Swift’s attendance at Kelce’s games throughout the season has divided sports fans, leading the NFL to defend its coverage of the pop star — particularly after Kelce commented that the NFL was “overdoing it.”

But this divide also makes for the perfect time to demonstrate Bluesky’s support for algorithmic choice — a differentiating feature for the startup that aims to become a decentralized version of Twitter.

On Bluesky, users don’t have to be locked into one main, algorithmically-driven feed, as on other social networks. Instead, the platform supports the creation of a wide variety of custom feeds to create unique views into its public content. Some of these are built by the Bluesky team, like the “What’s Hot” feed featuring trending posts, while others are built by community members, like the dedicated news feed featuring posts from verified news organizations or the one with cute animal pictures, for example. Developers have also built tools for custom feed creation, like Bluesky Feed Creator and Skyfeed, allowing anyone to build their own feeds using a visual editor.

In the case of the Super Bowl, Bluesky decided to show off the power of its custom feeds capabilities with two variations — one a Super Bowl LVIII feed which will help football fans find each other on the growing social network. The other is a similar feed, but also includes chatter about Taylor Swift amid the conversation. Cleverly, Bluesky dubbed this one “SB (Taylor’s Version).”

Noted Bluesky team member Emily Liu, the idea behind the multiple feeds came down to the fact that “…some football fans have strong feelings about *not* seeing any TS related content in their football news…,” she said.

As lighthearted and seemingly silly as this use case may be, it’s a perfect demonstration of what it means to personalize your social media to your own interests by way of algorithmic choice.

The feeds you like can be pinned to your home page for easy access, making everyone’s version of Bluesky unique. There are a wide variety of custom feeds to choose from. Some are topical feeds, like these new Super Bowl feeds, while others just give you a different view of your network, like feeds that include posts from your “Mutuals,” feeds of posts that are “Popular with Friends” or feeds featuring posts from “Quiet Posters” — meaning people less frequently engage in conversation, and whose posts may have otherwise been missed.

Though Bluesky isn’t necessarily known for having a large community of sports fans, it has gained more attention after launching this week to the public after a long invite-only period which had some wondering if it arrived too late. But so far, things look good for the new network on that front. After opening its doors on Tuesday, Bluesky has added another 1.3 million users — that’s bigger than Mastodon’s monthly active user base at present, for comparison. (Mastodon is another open source Twitter rival, but one that’s built on a different protocol). In total, Bluesky has over 4.5 million users as of Friday afternoon.

Image Credits: Bluesky

Whether custom feeds prove a long-term draw remains to be seen. X has been proven surprisingly sticky, despite now facing multiple competitors from small startups to tech giants like Meta. As Twitter, the network had been the go-to place for real-time sports commentary, analysis and fan reactions — a habit that may be hard for football fans to break, no matter what sort of new tools for managing their networks become available.

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